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Dr. Bruce Gregory
Merit Award

In honour of Dr Bruce Gregory,

Te Hiku Hauora provides Local Kura Kaupapa and Secondary
Schools in Muriwhenua,

Merit Awards to recognise outstanding achievement in Te Reo Māori of secondary school students.


"His vision was for Māori  to become financially autonomous rather than rely on government funding to improve their health and wellbeing."

Dr Bruce Gregory
Te Rarawa, Ngai Tahu 
(1937 - 2015) 

Bruce Gregory was born in Kaingaroa, he attended Pukepoto Native School, Kaitaia College and the University of Otago.   He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and practised medicine in Thames Hospital and in Kaitaia.  Bruce would later gain distinction as the first Māori  General Practitioner to practice in Kaitaia, a role he held for more than 20 years, balancing Western medicine alongside rongoā, before exchanging the small-town streets and dusty back roads of his rural practice in 1981 for a seat in Parliament as the MP for Northern Māori, following the resignation of the late Matiu Rata.

Dr Gregory believed that efforts to win back some of his people's natural treasures - land, fisheries and forests - were helping to restore their self-esteem as well.

"The morale of the Māori  people was so low, knocked left, right and centre, because the Treaty had not been respected. They were losing heart in themselves as a people and as individuals, failing to grasp opportunities. One result of this was poor health," he said.

He once told the House: "I stand here tonight as a person of both European and Māori  origins. I say to the House tonight that I feel ashamed of my European origin, because I believe that the Bill is an attempt to deprive a people of the rights that were theirs from the beginning of time; since their arrival. Some may even argue that Māori  were always here. If we start examining some of the information before us, I wonder whether that is not true.

"The Bill is supposed to be about human rights, aboriginal rights and human decency. The Bill is supposed to be about justice, trust, universality and the common sense of all New Zealanders. The Bill is about the rights of individuals and also the rights of the collective. In the collective sense I am talking about iwi, certainly in the sense of the Māori  people."

Quitting politics in 1993, Dr Gregory returned to Kaitaia, where he became actively involved in iwi health and politics. He was a member of the NZ Council of Social Services, the NZ Māori  Council, the Northern Advisory Health Committee, the Kaitaia College Board of Governors, the Far North Regional Museum, chairman of the Tai Tokerau District Māori  Council, founder of the Far North Credit Union, a member of the Māori  health funding and support agency MAPO and chairman of Te Taumata Kaumatua o Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu.

He was very much involved in the foreshore and sea bed debate, and was involved in a number of trusts that encouraged young Māori  through te reo, history, rongoā, arts and crafts. He was also involved with Māori  language research with the Sir James Henare Research Centre at Auckland University.

With an interest in music, he studied the playing and manufacture of traditional Māori  musical instruments at the Dunedin Museum. He also met with Richard Nunns, an accomplished player and manufacturer of koauau.

Dr Gregory was an enthusiastic writer of non-fiction articles and poetry, and was well known for vociferous letters to the editor that left the reader wondering what he meant. His favourite target was another letter writer, LR Martin, who he would regularly challenge.

He was not a man to blow his own trumpet and often used the whakatauaki 'Ko te kawau anake e whakahua ana i tana ingoa .. ko au ko au ko au' (It is only the shag (kawau) that cries his own name, it is I, it is I, it is I.)

In 1977 he carved and presented the tokotoko Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Te Tai Tokerau i runga o Mataatua to the Dean of the Medical School, Professor David Cole, for use by the dean and his successors.

A new waka, 'Tinana,' was built for the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi 1990. The only outrigger canoe built at that time, it was made from two kauri logs set aside about 20 years previously by Dr Gregory.

In 1984, in line with his interest in Māori  art, he attended the Te Māori  Exhibition in New York, while he presented the Dr Bruce Gregory Trophy for Kaitataki Tane (Male Leader) as a gift from the heart for Māori  who devote enormous time to kapa haka, his contribution to the traditional Māori  performing arts and the pursuit of excellence.

Meanwhile some travelled from as far as Te Hapua and Te Kao when additions at Kaitaia Hospital were opened, leaving at 3am to attend the dawn ceremony. The hospital was one of the first in the country with a whare nui, Dr Gregory organising and helping with the carvings for the whare, some of which were created by Duncan Kapa and others.

Dr Gregory was one of the committee that had decided that tupapaku were not to lie in the whare overnight, but, due to the mana and respect he had earned, he was allowed to lie there until the following day, when he was taken to his home marae.

In 2000 he became a trustee of Te Hauora o Te Hiku o Te Ika, where he again expressed his passion regarding Māori  health and the employment of Māori  to look after Māori. He advocated for the employment of Māori  medical and non-medical staff to care for the needs of Māori  on the basis that Māori  were best suited to take care of the needs and well-being of their own people.

His vision was for Māori  to become financially autonomous rather than rely on government funding to improve their health and wellbeing.

In 2001, after establishing the nurse-led Maranga Mai Clinic in Kaitaia, the natural progression was to establish the trust's own General Practice clinic, and, with an eye ever on the future, to expand by purchasing local GP and dental practices

Author: Tom Allan ( Northland Age, 11 Feb, 2016) Retrieved 23rd Nov 2023 from
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